Standout Short Films Of 2020 (So Far)
No Festivals. No Premieres. No Problem?
By late May it’s usually much easier to gauge what the best short films of the year are. Many of the top world festivals have played, leading many shorts to begin to emerge as Oscar frontrunners…
…but not this year. Instead, 2020 has been anything but predictable and will continue to be so. While a few short films did get a proper theatrical premiere (Sundance chief among them), there are many whose scheduled releases have either been delayed in hopes for a physical release or who have premiered online.
Given only what we know about now, here’s the shorts of the year so far. Either look forward to seeing them soon or catch them if they are already online.
OLLA — Directed by Ariane Labed
Plot: OLLA answers an ad on a dating website for Eastern European women. Shortly thereafter, she moves in with Pierre who lives with his elderly mother and things don’t go as expected.
Awards: Winner of Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand, Official Selections at Cannes and Sundance
This fish-out-of-water story actually got its start back in 2019 with its Cannes premiere, but it’s not until 2020 that the film has truly gotten its due with the juries. This is the debut short of Ariane Labed, an actress who has played in some of the best movies of the last decade (Before Midnight, The Souvenir) along with some major blockbusters (Assassin’s Creed). “Olla” is still making its festival rounds but keep an eye on it for its eventual release.
NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE — Directed by Carol Nguyen
Plot: Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.
Awards: Winner of Grand Jury at SXSW, Official Selection at TIFF 2019
The standout short documentary of the year so far had its premiere late last year but found a digital release after the announcement of SXSW being cancelled. We love how honest and raw this documentary about a family manages to be, while still having a great sense of humor about itself. Nguyen’s work is always bold and original, so we can’t wait to see what comes next!
You can read our extended interview with director Carol Nguyen here.
SYMBIOSIS— Directed by Nadja Andrasev
Plot: A betrayed wife starts to investigate her husband’s mistresses. Her jealousy is gradually replaced by curiosity.
Awards: Winner at Slamdance, SXSW and Angers European First.
Andrasev’s atmospheric and tactile short starts with a seemingly traditional story of infidelity and completely turns it on its head for a fascinating look at womanhood and identity. In animated film circles, this short has really taken off. On the strength of this short and Andrasev’s first, “The Noise of Licking”, we are certainly experiencing the rise of a new voice in animated filmmaking. The lines between experimental and narrative continue to blur, and we couldn’t be happier!
Read our extended interview with director Nadja Andrasev here.
MY FATHER THE MOVER — Directed by Julia Jansch
Plot: Alatha’s father calls himself a Mover. Using African dance moves, he helps kids in Khayelitsha township to transcend their hardship (drugs, poverty and abuse) and “find their superpowers.” The Mover is also a single father. And while he has helped many kids, he still has difficulty getting his own daughter to find her own powers. But in a tender moment together, this is all about to change.
Awards: Winner of Best Documentary Short at Tribeca, Official Selection at Florida Film Festival
One of the most inspiring and uplifting documentaries of the year also happens to be among 2020’s most beautiful looking shorts. This is only Jansch’s second short, but we expect “My Father the Mover” to have a longer festival life and continue to influence others. Like last year’s “Lowland Kids”, we are starting to see that short documentaries can have a pertinent message and still be incredibly cinematic.
GENIUS LOCI— Directed by Adrien Merigeau
Plot: One night, Reine, a young loner, sees the urban chaos as a mystical oneness that seems alive, like some sort of guide.
Awards: Winner at Berlin, Angers European First and Clermont-Ferrand
Perhaps the most acclaimed short of 2020 so far, this fascinating modernist wonderland of an animated short brings equal parts ambition and emotion. One of the aspects of animated shorts that we look to most is imagination and “Genius Loci” sure has it in spades. We think this vibrant, chaotic masterwork has legs to be in serious Oscar contention next year.
MARCY LEARNS SOMETHING NEW — Directed by Julia Kennelly
Marcy Learns Something New by Julia Kennelly | Short Film
A nice suburban house, an adult daughter, a dog, and a stable job-Marcy has a rather conventional life. Having recently…
Plot: A widow goes to a dominatrix class.
Awards: Special mention at Aspen ShortsFest
Most of the titles on this list have some rather heavy themes, so if we had to pick one standout comedy short film so far this year, it’d be the story of a recent suburban widower who discovers BDSM as an outlet for new experiences. Anchored by a powerful central performance from Rachel Dratch, “Marcy” is a comedy about self-discovery with a warm touch. On the heels of its very enticing premise, it manages to deliver a very nuanced and satisfying arc. This is one comedy that will stick with you.
Miniflix is now playing many other standout short films, including recent award winners and festival selections. Start your free trial today!